Interview broadcast 04 June 2012
Lance Guma: Good evening Zimbabwe and thank you for joining me Behind the Headlines. Last week on Question Time we had the former Zanu PF MP for Marondera East Tracy Mutinhiri on the programme. We asked her about the manner in which she and her ex-husband, Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri, took over the farm formerly owned by the Cartwright family. This is how the interview went:
Guma: Your farm in Marondera was invaded by war vets and Zanu PF youths allegedly sponsored by the State Security Minister Sidney Sekeramayi; what’s the status of that farm – are you still there or have they moved you out?
Mutinhiri: No I’m still there; maybe I should just consider myself lucky because then the police came to protect me. I want to applaud the police for having protected me at that juncture. The police did not allow the militias to come into my farm and that was one incident that has not re-occurred. I’m carrying on with my farming activities at the farm and so far I haven’t experienced any disturbances.
Guma: You of course will be aware that you and your former husband Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri have in the past been criticised for the manner in which you got the farm in Marondera. Having joined the MDC-T do you think that puts you in a very difficult situation to explain how you got the farm? What’s your reaction?
Mutinhiri: No, it won’t put me in a difficult situation because all we did was, we were given that farm after it had been acquired by government, by the state and when it was acquired by the state we were given an offer letter and we took it, our offer letter we saw Douglas, Guy’s son and we showed him the offer letter and we said that we have been offered this piece of land, can we sit down and negotiate how best we can exchange hands.
That’s how it happened but certainly the Cartwrights resisted like any other person who was resisting and then in the end we then sat down with Guy Cartwright who was then the owner of the farm not Douglas, we sat down, we discussed about the issues, we agreed, we even bought some of his implements.
Guma: The version of events obviously is that a mob led by your husband is the one that seized the property.
Mutinhiri: Well people might talk in that manner but what exactly happened is we had an offer letter and we went and discussed it with the Cartwrights but like any revolution it is resisted and when it was resisted and knowing my ex-husband’s background, he is a soldier and he had to do it the, I don’t know maybe the military way, I don’t know whether it was right or if it was not right but he had to do it through the military but the lucky part is that no life was destroyed.
Guma: That was the former Zanu PF member of parliament for Marondera East Tracy Mutinhiri on the programme with us, that was Question Time. Today on Behind the Headlines we have Douglas Cartwright, the son of the late Guy Cartwright. You heard Tracy Mutinhiri’s account of what happened, Douglas, is that true?
Douglas Cartwright: Good evening, thanks very much first of all, on behalf of the Cartwright family for allowing us to give the correct version of events which gave us obviously some huge emotional trauma and obviously financial stress in our lives, no the event is not true.
The correct sequence of events physically as it happened was that on the evening of the 6th of April 2002, my parents were driving in one of the fields and they got a call from the security guard stating that there was a mob of youths, led by the Brigadier Mutinhiri had marched onto the property and had gone straight into our homes.
They were particularly rowdy and seemed to be under the influence, obviously this is all some time ago but since that moment we were denied access to our homes, we were not allowed back into our homes and of course obviously to our livelihoods as born Zimbabweans, that sort of thing.
So just to be very clear about this, there was no such offer letter that we saw, we were not designated at that current time under the state of the ruling of the courts and that under the Land Acquisition Act; we never received a Section Five or Section Eight.
I don’t know what it is now but that was what it was in those days and this is when we kind of realized they were operating under their personal greed. So we don’t think it was a state sanctioned so we applied to the High Court to have an order to remove these illegal occupants which was granted but they ignored it and I need to repeat that they are still there without our family’s permission and they remain there with impunity and it’s scary that they are disregarding the rule of law.
I’ve never been back to my home, we were out at the time, I’ve never been back into my house at all so perhaps she can explain why my son couldn’t sleep in his bed that night, I don’t know, so yah, that’s the sequence of events Lance.
Guma: Now she says she showed you an offer letter – was there any such offer letter?
Cartwright: No, they marched on and said they had been given the property, when were we leaving? And that was him and his wife, of which we knew nothing, obviously we had never received any notification from our lawyers that we were under any Land Acquisition Act and all the rest, so we ignored their statements because they didn’t have the proof, they didn’t have any documentation.
Guma: What about the issue of the farm equipment? She is claiming that she sat down with you guys and you reached an amicable decision and sold them the equipment.
Cartwright: Yah that’s a very sweet little statement by her but what actually happened was, because we were denied access to the home, we received a few phone calls in the evenings and all that sort of stuff and messages from people with death threats.
We feared very much for our lives, we all went into hiding over that period and what happened was they eventually came up, my family came to an agreement that it was best that maybe we could remove the crop that we obviously had paid for and harvested and try and get it off so the only negotiations were, were to try and get off as much as we could rescue from a situation that had completely lost our control.
We had no assistance from the police at all, nobody, so the only negotiations were was to get some of our tobacco crop off to sell and the rest of it was sort of ended up by the wayside, it was very traumatic.
Guma: Tracy Mutinhiri is obviously the ex-wife of Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri, what was her role, I’m talking here in particular Tracy, what was her role? Was the husband the one leading this or they were equally involved in this? How would you describe that?
Cartwright: They were equally involved. I in fact went back once to the property as I was denied access with a certain threat, I went back once to get my computer from the farm office so I could actually pay my staff because now my staff were saying they needed to be paid and all the records were on the computer and she was the one in my office, actually using my computer at the time and reluctantly gave it to me and I managed to negotiate my way out from her youths that were sitting around her. She was 100% side-by-side with him.
Guma: She says in the interview with us: “luckily no life was lost” – is that true?
Cartwright: Certainly none of the Cartwrights were ever hurt, killed, anything like that but as you can imagine Lance, this is a very emotional trauma of being ripped from your home that had been in there for 68 years. I don’t know, maybe she doesn’t count that, that’s minor damage, but she really does need to explain why her husband stood over my father with a sjambok, with a whip while he packed his house and I don’t think that’s very good.
Guma: Last year Zanu PF youths and war vets invaded the Mutinhiri farm and a lot of people said it was ironic considering that Brigadier Mutinhiri with the help of war vets and Zanu PF youths had illegally invaded and seized the property. You heard her talk there saying thankfully the police came and assisted her. How do you feel knowing you didn’t get the same protection from the police?
Cartwright: That’s a good question Lance and it’s something that has haunted us since we left the farm that day. I’m a born Zimbabwean, I have an agricultural degree, I don’t know anything else and the fact that my civil rights were not upheld by the state is tragic.
Whether she managed to get a bit more luck with that, well that’s her. I pity her, I think shame, I think she’s a very unlucky woman, I think a lot of bad luck follows her, I think it’s going to keep on following her but in terms of what she scored by that I really have no comment on that.
Guma: Talk us through what you guys did on the farm I terms of what did you grow. If you could give us the value of what you did on the farm in terms of produce.
Cartwright: Yah overall we had a workforce of, a stable workforce of about 250 people, employing up to a seasonal of about 400. We grew tobacco, maize; we had seed maize, we had a beef herd, we had a dairy herd, and we had some timber, a cheese-making process that came off one of our dairies and all that sort of thing.
So overall it was a couple of million pounds a year that was produce that was being produced. We had a farm school, we had over 400 children that the Cartwright family financed which had a library, it even had computers – and that’s back in the early 2000s – which is quite a good thing for my father.
And I need to reiterate at this point Lance, my parents and the Cartwright family included all, never been a card-carrying member of any political party of any such persuasion whatsoever. My father was a very big Rotarian and believed in giving to communities and we feel that some of the repercussions that happened to us were political which I don’t think should happen to anybody in a civil society.
But yah, it was a very big farm and it was very productive as far as we were concerned. I don’t know what is happening now; I know that they chopped all the forestry down and sold it and I don’t know what is happening there right now.
Guma: In terms of the legal route, where did this case end? What stage has the case gone to?
Cartwright: Well the High Court ruled a few times in our favour and that’s where it’s gone to Lance, there’s been no further progress from that and I don’t know what’s happened since then, we’ve been away from it for a while, I needed to pick up the pieces of my life after having farmed for 68 years and then to start with the shoes on your feet. There’s been other pressing priorities at the moment like food on the table.
Guma: There’s talk that several members of the MDC-T, under Prime Minister Tsvangirai, in Marondera want to compile affidavits which they will use to oppose Mutinhiri’s membership in the party. Are you aware of this and what are your thoughts on her joining the MDC?
Cartwright: Well like I said earlier Lance I don’t have any opinion on whether she’s allowed to join a party or not, that’s her right, my main concern of it is that I fear for the leadership of our country in the fact that she is the sort of quality of leadership that they are looking for on a personal basis I must add.
I don’t think she’s the right person but obviously you’re talking to me who experienced first hand some of her greed and brutality so in terms of the affidavits, the guys are welcome to talk to my lawyer on this issue but yah, I don’t know, I think maybe the MDC should, any party that she’s been part of, I think they should really question who they actually have leading because the people, we look after the country for the future, for the future generations, it’s not for us right now and I hope that they make the right decisions in the MDC and Zanu PF do as well.
Guma: My final question for you Douglas, supposing Mai Mutinhiri is listening to this interview – final word – what would you like to say to her?
Cartwright: Ah Lance, I hope she’s listening to it and I hope she understands the trauma that she put my family through. My father passed away because of her.
Guma: Well Zimbabwe, that’s Douglas Cartwright, the son of the late Guy Cartwright joining us today on Behind the Headlines. We’ve given the family a platform to respond to the Question Time interview we had with Tracy Mutinhiri, the former member of parliament for Marondera East in Zanu PF before she was expelled from that party and joined the MDC-T. Douglas, thank you so much for your time and talking to us Behind the Headlines.
Cartwright: Thank you Lance and I appreciate it.Post published in: News